ALBUM REVIEW: Appnel rises from ‘the Aftermath’

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First Posted: 2/3/2014

It’s been more than 10 years since Mere Mortals, one of the best original projects Northeastern Pennsylvania has ever seen, abruptly disbanded. The critically-acclaimed group, which built a loyal following in NEPA’s clubs from the early ‘90s through the early 2000s, released three dazzling albums and was once voted by Times Leader readers the area’s “Best Original Band.” And for a long while after they disbanded, Eddie Appnel, the group’s frontman and principal songwriter, dropped out of the NEPA music scene.

Thankfully, Appnel has reemerged in recent years, and this month, the gifted singer/songwriter released his first solo CD, “In the Aftermath.” Recorded at Saturation Acres Recording Studio and produced by Bret Alexander, the 11-track collection features Appnel displaying all of his musical talents. The album’s opening track, also the title track, is clearly autobiographical and seems to address the breakup of Mere Mortals and the following years when Appnel tried to regain his musical footing, or as he sings, “the music stopped and part of me died.” The new message: He’s back.

“I’ve survived, and I’m alright,” he sings. “This is me, breaking free, piecing back the dream after the crash.”

“Shame on My Heart,” a thoughtful and moody number, ponders a situation where all of the ingredients for love are in place for two people, yet for one, something is missing. “Killing Kind of Drug,” another mid-tempo gem, tells of a passionate and addictive tryst, while “Two for the Road” offers some foot-stompin’ roadhouse rock.

With “Maybe Nevermind,” Appnel dusts off and reintroduces a tune from his time with Mere Mortals. Recorded during the final days of the band and never officially released on CD, it’s an insanely catchy pop number that Appnel, wisely, realized deserved to see the light of day. It’s also one of the album’s highlights. He visits the Mere Mortals catalog once more with a re-recording of “Resoluto,” a Police-style track that showcases, quite wonderfully, Appnel’s diversity as an artist. His Beatles influence is apparent on “Oh Makita” and with “No Other Baby” – a song first recorded by Dickie Bishop and The Sidekicks in 1957 and covered by Paul McCartney in 1999; he gives a proper nod to his musical roots.

“In The Aftermath” is a clever mix of music. Longtime fans of Appnel will find plenty to like but will also hear samplings of his musical growth over the past decade. New songwriting partner Derek Tooney has brought a touch of Nashville to the project, and Appnel, working with Alexander for the first time, enlisted an all-star lineup of regional talent to play on the tracks, including a few of his former bandmates. It all makes for terrific record.

“I’ve survived,” sings Appnel. “I’m alright.”

Indeed. In fact, he’s better than just alright. He’s still one of the finest artists in the region.

Eddie Appnel ‘In the Aftermath’ Rating: W W W W W